There are surprisingly a lot of folks who don’t realize that the Marvel hero Ghost Rider has a few iterations. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got people talking about the newest Ghost Rider, but just how many have there been? Let’s take a look!
Now, there are a couple of non-hero alter egos of Ghost Rider, but I’m going to just put my focus on the heroic forms Ghost Rider took since those are the superheroes that actually brought some justice into their universe(s). Sure, antiheroes are fun and all but I was more surprised to learn about the good guys that came after Johnny Blaze! And if you’re expecting me to talk about the original dude on the horse with the cape? That ain’t happening. Only fiery skulls, fam!
Johnny Blaze: 1972 to Present
Being the very first Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze became bound with the Spirit of Vengeance, Zarathos after a come-to-Mephisto talk helped him spare a loved ones life. Johnny had been adopted by Crash Simpson and his wife after his parents split up and his Father eventually died, thus tying Johnny to Crash since he stayed with the Simpsons’ as part of their traveling stunt show. Seeing them as his real true parents, Johnny boy got super attached and things were fine until one day Crash was developing a danger he couldn’t quite defeat on his own: cancer. At this point, Johnny got a bit occult happy and summoned Mephisto, who he declared he would essentially sell his soul to should Mephisto spare Crash’s life. A life for a life, as it so happened. Crash went into remission and was cured of his cancer but would then go on to die during a stunt gone wrong.
Johnny was beside himself but Mephisto claimed that it wasn’t on him since he cured Crash’s cancer as he was summoned to do but he had no control over what Crash did to bring his own demise. Besides, the deal wasn’t to keep Crash alive forever, was it? Johnny would have to stay true to his word. However, Mephisto didn’t quite expect that Roxanne, Crash’s daughter who would come to fall in love with Johnny, would use that love to purify the deal between himself and Blaze. It was far too late, however, for Mephisto had connected Johnny through bond with a Spirit of Vengeance. Thus creating the first true Ghost Rider.
Danny Ketch: 1990 to 2010?
I swear, it’s not the easiest to keep up with how often these Riders pop back in and out of each others storylines, not to mention there are always alternate runs and universes for them to take part in. With that said, Danny Ketch was not some death-defying stuntman, rather he was living in Brooklyn when his sister was murdered at the hands of Deathwatch. “Who?” you’re asking and I get it. Deathwatch was some dink that worked alongside Kingpin as a crime boss and his prime objective and desire was keeping ahold of all those biotoxins that were coming in and out of New York. Be that as it may, Ketch and his sister were in the wrong place at the wrong damn time. Danny barely got away but once he hid out in an old scrapyard, he found a motorcycle that had a rather interesting sigil. One little touch (with his sister’s blood on his hands) and that was all it took for Ketch to become Ghost Rider. Upon doing that, he took the beating to the folks that had left his sister mortally wounded and slowly started to learn the secrets to his new alter ego.
Eventually Johnny Blaze, still a Ghost Rider (it doesn’t ever really leave, you know? There’s just more added to the roster.) and trying to keep an eye on things as per his superhero status dictates, stumbles upon a Ghost Rider who is actually helping others rather than being one of those shady jerks. He then finds Ketch and the two of them start a lil’ Ghost Rider Motorcycle Club ala the Midnight Sons. Oh, how these two would go deal with all those crazy occult-ish bad guys that were just not on the same radar as some of the other more above-ground superheroes!
Ketch would go on to find out, thanks to the help of Doctor Strange, that he was somewhat distantly related to the sorceress Jennifer Kale, which only made things intensely worse for Danny and the rest of his connected group. The Furies were awakened upon realizing that Kale’s descendants were boppin’ around and it took quite a bit to calm that down and calm the situation for awhile. A coma and some personal family drama would follow before Ketch and Blaze would have to take on an assault on Zadkiel, who was enjoying using Ketch and Blaze for his own fun. After that, well, we’re not quite sure where Dannyboy disappeared off to.
Alejandra Jones: 2011 to 2014 (Fear Itself)
Now, this one is a complex one. See, Alejandra was raised in a temple slash tomb in Nicaragua after being sold by her Father. Fun stuff, right? Woof. Well, she ends up with Adam (seriously, he’s just Adam and it’s essentially implied he is the biblical Adam come back to sort some ish out.) who is training her and others to see who can become the next Ghost Rider. Thing of it is, Adam doesn’t want her to become a Ghost Rider in order to help others, no, he wants to use her as a sort of purity bomb and destroy evil all over the world. See, Adam had offered to take the Ghost Rider curse from Johnny Blaze but Blaze didn’t know Adam’s plans to wipe sin from all of humanity. Knowing that, Blaze shows up just as Adam is demanding Alejandra to rid the other students of their sin and if she refused, well, he would enslave her. Long story long, well, it took Blaze quite some time and a trip to a space station to calm Alejandra out of Adam’s influence over her. She had already zombified Nicaragua and sweet Johnny helped her sort all of that drama out before she decided, with lesser abilities in the long run, that she’d continue with the mantle and help folks where she could.
She would stick close to Johnny, who would have an amulet that could paralyze her, in hopes that if she ever became a bomb again — he could squash that real quick rather than watch another country become zombified husks. A few more dramas later and Alejandra would die and come back, hell-bent (see what I did there?) on getting those innocent souls that were thrown into Hell out of it. With a threat to Adam and some rather strange selfish behavior, since she didn’t want to be trapped in Hell again, she was ready to destroy Mephisto to get all of the souls captured. Blaze had to be the one to take her down and transfer her Spirit of Vengeance from herself into him, making him not only stronger but depleting the majority of her powers. Angry that Blaze hadn’t just done that in the first place, she bitterly went her own separate way and Johnny just had to sigh, shrug and go back to business.
Robbie Reyes: 2014 to Present
This is our current era Ghost Rider, the new blood, as it were. Robbie Reyes is a mechanic who moonlights as a street racer as well as the sole hero figure for his little brother Gabe. He was desperate to move himself and Gabe to a safer hood than they were in and for good reason. Robbie steals a car, enters an illegal street race but doesn’t quite realize the car he stole was, well, haunted. Upon taking the lead in the race, the dangerous folks he stole the car from him were gaining on him as well and once he stopped, assuming it was the cops, they opened fire and killed him. They tried to destroy the evidence, burning the car and Robbie in the same go but, you see, they didn’t realize that there car had a g-g-ghost! Possessing Robbie, he took on the mantle as the new Ghost Rider.
Robbie never realized this happened, however, thinking he just had a rough damn dream. Thing of it was, he tried to return to business as usual only to see his boss was killed and things had intensely escalated. Upon seeing the chaos and transforming again into Ghost Rider, he takes it on quite differently and it’s almost a Eddie Brock/Venom situation. Robbie can connect and speak with his spirit, named Eli, who gives him a chance to get some revenge on the people ruining the city and taking the lives of those in his life.
Problem here is, spoiler alert: Eli isn’t actually a Spirit of Vengeance. No, Eli, who possessed Robbie’s bod? He’s a serial killer. Which is why things get a bit cagey for Reyes. Johnny even showed up, trying to figure out why this new Ghost Rider was becoming so damn concerning. Don’t worry, things work out for your boy Robbie — but you should really check that out for yourself. The story of Robbie Reyes trying to get through having Eli using him as a host and obtaining his Penance Stare is pretty dang cool.
So, there you have it! There are the origins and somewhat crazy stories of these Ghost Riders. Ones you may know of, ones you may not! Check these rad story arcs out and dive into a darker side of Marvel than the usual aliens and mutants! Heck, there’s even a Blade cameo in there! Lots of fun to be had, friends.